Nothing within an hour’s drive of Denver comes close to the majestic and breathtaking vantage point of Loveland Pass.
I will never tire of making that adventurous drive in either direction, especially in the winter. The winter wonderland you encounter at this lofty elevation of 11,990 feet is unforgettable. Just don’t drive it at night during a snowstorm! You may easily lose track of the road, and tumble off unguarded cliffs.
Back-country runs in the area bear names like: Dave’s Wave, The Professor, Ironing Board, and Sh-t for Brains.
On the southwest side of the pass is Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, a Colorado favorite for its above-timberline skiing and relaxed, casual, friendly atmosphere. Few ski areas in the region–-or in all of Colorado-–can boast the steep, extreme terrain found on its fabled East Wall. Perhaps that’s why its nickname is “The Legend.”
“The Basin” boasts some of the highest lift serviced terrain in North America from its summit of 13,050′. Its snow riding season usually runs from mid-October to late June. In 2011, the snowpack was so deep, die-hard regulars enjoyed skiing, riding, elaborate tailgate BBQ “beach” parties–and fireworks–on July 4th.
From its summit, you can see two other ski areas to the west — Keystone and Breckenridge.
On the Interstate 70 side of the pass, near Loveland Ski Area, is a mountain face featuring “The Seven Sisters.” While some death-defying backcountry skiers attempt these chutes, they are off-limits because of the extreme danger an avalanche poses for passing motorists.
According to Ethan Greene of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, “The Seven Sisters have the dubious honor of being the most active slide area over any U.S. Highway.
Whether you’re scanning the Continental Divide, Clear Creek County or Summit County, nothing compares to the bright white winter views from both sides of Loveland Pass.
© Eric Schickler Adventure Photographer
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